6 Lifestyle Tips to Help Improve Your Breathing and Lung Function

6 Lifestyle Tips to Help Improve Your Breathing and Lung Function

Are your lungs healthy? Many people may automatically say yes if they’re nonsmokers and if they aren’t suffering from any lung illnesses, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, or lung cancer. However, there are many more things that can affect lung quality and the ability to breathe easier. Here are a few tips on how you can improve your breathing and lung function.

#1: Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods

Antioxidants help to reduce the number of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are known to cause a variety of problems, with cancer being the most notable. This oxidative stress caused by free radicals can also cause heart disease and inflammation in the body, including inflammation of the lungs. Healthy foods high in antioxidants include:

  • Artichokes
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Berries
  • Dark chocolate
  • Kale
  • Pecans
  • Red cabbage
  • Spinach

It’s also helpful to eat anti-inflammatory foods, many of which are also antioxidants (e.g., berries and dark chocolate). Other anti-inflammatory foods include avocados, broccoli, green tea, mushrooms, olive oil, salmon, and turmeric.

#2: Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise can help improve lung function. Physical activity makes the heart and lungs work harder (in a good way) and strengthens your lungs in the same way that exercise strengthens your muscles. The best exercises to improve lung function include:

  • Aerobic exercises (jumping, running, walking)
  • Breathing exercises, including yoga
  • Strengthening exercises, including pilates

Experts recommend that you get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day for five days out of the week. Physical activity doesn’t necessarily have to be structured exercise, but it does have to be enough movement to increase your heart rate, even if it’s only slightly increased.

#3: Fill Your Home with Indoor Plants

Plants are a natural air purifier, known for their ability to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Plants are also good at purifying the air indoors, as there are indoor pollutants in the same way that there are outdoor pollutants. Some of the best air-purifying, nontoxic (to both children and pets), and easy-to-care-for plants are:

  • Areca palms
  • Bamboo
  • Spider plants

Other good indoor plants include Chinese evergreen, chrysanthemum, English ivy, golden pothos, peace lilies, rubber plants, and white butterfly, but these plants can be toxic to humans and pets if ingested.

#4: Get Flu and Pneumonia Vaccines

Getting the flu shot every year not only decreases your risk of catching the flu, but also decreases the risk of complications from the flu, such as contracting pneumonia. Pneumonia is more common in very young children and older adults, and it’s even recommended that older adults receive a pneumonia vaccine since they’re more likely to have complications from pneumonia.

#5: Quit Smoking

Smoking cigarettes is the number one cause of lung cancer, and lung cancer is the most fatal cancer that occurs in both men and women. Smoking also increases your risk of developing COPD-related illnesses like chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Constant smoking can also lead to a persistent cough, but the good news is that your health can start to improve once you stop. And if you’re not a smoker, don’t make the decision to start.

#6: Recognize the Source of Indoor Air Pollutants

Most people are aware of common outdoor pollutants and even harmful chemicals that may be present in some workplaces, but not many people are aware of the pollutants that can be lurking in the air in their own homes. One of the biggest culprits is formaldehyde because this harmful chemical can be found in a variety of household items, such as:

  • Cosmetic products
  • Defective CPAP machines
  • Finishes on furniture
  • Household cleaners and other products
  • Personal care products
  • Smoke (from cigarettes and cooking/burning wood)

It’s important to make sure that you can limit the amount of indoor air pollutants as much as possible to improve your breathing. Household plants are a great starting point, but also make sure that you change your air conditioner filters at least once a month to prevent the spread of dust throughout the house. Other ways to reduce indoor air pollutants are to perform frequent carbon monoxide and radon tests on your home.

Even those with chronic lung diseases can benefit from these six tips. In some cases, certain lung issues cannot currently be cured, but following these lifestyle tips can keep your condition from becoming worse. Not smoking, eating healthy, and exercising regularly can also keep the other organs in your body healthy, and adding indoor plants is known to boost mental health. So these are great tips to apply even if your lungs are healthy.


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